Hackathons are not a foreign concept to the tech savvy community here in the DMV, which makes this region such an attractive community to be a part of for young entrepreneurs. Future founders have the opportunity to experiment, to test out their innovative ideas and see what they can accomplish in a matter of only 36 hours. The hackathons are exhilarating, informative, a great learning experience for all involved. That would explain why a group of University of Maryland students are taking it upon themselves to host the first-ever Major League Hackathon to be held on campus.

Going by the name of Bitcamp, the event has attracted more than 750 college students from around the country who will be attending the summit at UMD from April 4-6 in Cole Field House on school grounds.

The weekend-long affair where students work in teams to develop cutting-edge hardware and applications for mobile devices, computers or the Web was planned entirely by a crew of motivated undergraduates. Their focus is on non-competitive student exploration, providing up-and-coming entrepreneurs to creatively collaborate without the added stress of striving for first place. This way students are encouraged to chase their passions rather than fuss over the traditional judging system.

To learn more about what to expect from Bitcamp, check out our interview below with senior computer science major Josh Berenhaus and junior electrical engineering and government & politics major Brent Bovenzi. Both UMD students have been key to the organization of Bitcamp, which is sure to be a brilliant example of what promising young innovative minds are thriving at UMD and other colleges across the nation.

InTheCapital: Where did the idea (and name) for Bitcamp come from?

Brent Bovenzi: We won the fall Major League Hacking season so it seemed like Maryland could host a hackathon and we felt that we could host a unique hackathon as well – one that wouldn’t be “just another hackathon.” We tried to have the name reflect that.

What sets Bitcamp apart from the many other hackathons hosted on college campuses nowadays?

BB: We shifted our focus away from the competition and towards the experience. We actually don’t have any winner or top three. We are mostly staying away from talks with one person at the front and everyone in an audience to a “Stories around the Bonfire” where everyone is in a circle. We will have fun side activities to de-stress from coding/building as well.

Why should students attend?

Joshua Berenhaus: Hackathons offer unparalleled support to help get student ideas into the realm of reality. The experience of other students, mentors, and sponsors offer a setting where students are able to create amazing projects that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to create on their own. In addition to that, there will be free food, shirts, and company giveaways as well as sponsor prizes.

Why should investors, alums and the DC Tech community attend?

BB: First, see amazing things be built. Second, these are some of the most talented up-and-coming developers and designers in the country. They are worth getting to know and even learn from.

In your opinion, what’s the most exciting feature of Bitcamp?

JB: In my opinion, the most exciting feature of Bitcamp is the amount of support we have for participants who have never been to a hackathon before. We will have everything from mentors roaming the floor to workshops in order to make sure all of the participants have a shot at creating a successful hack.

If limited on time, what’s one part of Bitcamp an attendee just can’t miss out on?

BB: The expo, https://nvite.com/bitcamp/expo. Everyone will have finished their projects and will demo them to the public. It’s amazing what people can make in just 36 hours. 

JB: I agree with Brent, the expo is definitely the part of the event you can’t miss. For students, it is the culmination of 36 hours of work on a project. For visitors, you get to see what some of the best student innovators and entrepreneurs of the world envision for the future. Projects consist of smartphone applications, mind-blowing hardware creations, viral websites, and future successful businesses.

Remember that the hackathon is open to the public, so feel free to register here. However, if you can’t attend, Bitcamp will be live blogging and has arranged for other multimedia recording methods to ensure the whole event is well documented for all to enjoy.

Image via Bitcamp